I never considered myself to be very bold or courageous growing up. I avoided confrontations to the best of my ability. Even that one “fight” I had in 6th grade wasn’t even really a fight. I hit someone for something they said (probably about my mamma), they hit me back, and I just looked at them like, “So what happens now?”
I was always self-conscious and eager to please. I never saw myself as brave. Yet, when I think about it, I definitely had my badass moments…
It was my freshman year of college at a predominantly white and Evangelical liberal arts college in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. My shy and timid black self stood at the front of my public speaking class and gave a shaky speech on the need and benefits of affirmative action to society.
I was the only black student in the class and my white teacher was an adjunct professor that had his share of ignorant-in-an-attempt to be funny comments. One of those comments was calling me “Foxy Brown” when I entered the class with my Afro.
As I rambled through my speech, barely glancing up from my sloppy index cards because the faces in front of me were blank, bored, or skeptical, I felt anything but brave. Yet, when I look back on it, I could have talked about anything else, why would I talk about how great affirmative action is (something I only partly agreed with myself)? Underneath my shyness and attempts to go under the radar, I had a desire to shake things up and turn over tables, I knew that it was an unpopular subject on campus at the time due to more African American students being enrolled that year than in many years prior (and the multicultural scholarship made available to most of those students). I didn’t choose that topic because I was really passionate about it; I wanted to piss people off!
So maybe I was brave then. Maybe we all have way more courage, power, and strength than we think we have. We are always our own biggest critics. It is now 7 years later that I embrace my desire to play devil’s advocate and turn over tables, if only in people’s minds. We always have power within us, even if we only tap into a little bit. Let’s walk in that power and shake some things up.
Choose to be positively optimistic and powerful today and even on days when you don’t feel like you have it in you.